Independence Day Protest Zimbabwe Vigil Diary April 17, 2010

shumba_matomboLONDON - Volcanic ash from Iceland 1,000 miles to the north dropped gently on the Vigil as we marked Zimbabwes 30th anniversary of Independence. Despite this, it was a lovely sunny day and there was a big attendance at our anniversary demonstration during which we left thirty candles at the nearby South African High Commis

People walked from the Zimbabwe Embassy in small groups carrying banners and candles and left them on the steps of South Africa House around the corner on Trafalgar Square. We were glad to be joined by two champions of Zimbabwean freedom: Lovemore Matombo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

Lovemore Matombo said that despite the earlier progress after independence there was still a lack of freedom in Zimbabwe. The MDC seemed to have been lulled into submission and had become a continuation of the Mugabe regime. They had betrayed the people but the ZCTU would not give up the struggle. He said Zimbabwe was a rich country which had been plundered for the benefit of the few. He added that Zimbabwes diamonds alone were enough to get the economy on track. Matombo lamented what he called the fragmentation of civil society in Zimbabwe.

For his part Gabriel Shumba advised the Diaspora that there must be rule of law in Zimbabwe before they could safely go home so they would be free from harassment, torture and intimidation. He said people in the Diaspora must be given the right to vote and dual citizenship should be allowed. He insisted there should be international observers on the ground during any election. Shumba stressed the need for transitional justice. He said that people could not go home to Zimbabwe to find the perpetrators of the violence against them were still in place. He added that another demand was that South Africa must protect Zimbabweans against xenophobic violence. He said he feared a resurgence of this after the World Cup.

Another visitor to the Vigil was Mr Mugabe (alias Reginald Gwasira in our Mugabe mask). He joined us at the South African High Commission with a placard reading Thanks Comrade Malema. He reappeared later outside the Zimbabwe Embassy with a bottle of wine and large glass and a placard reading Heres to another 30 years.

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FOR THE RECORD: 225 signed the register.

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